As a young student with ADD, doing any writing was the furthest thing from my mind. But having taken that step so many years ago, I still receive an average of 8-10 letters or emails per week from persons in all walks of life and from places far and wide.
As a young student struggling with ADD during an era when no one even recognized the disorder, let alone understood it, I developed a dislike for reading. And when it came to writing, it seemed that all my most passionate and sincere efforts to communicate through the written word met with scathing criticism from my teachers. So, I resigned myself at the time to the notion that I’d never be much of a writer.
When I began my career as a psychologist, doing any writing was the furthest thing from my mind. Although I’d been commended by some of my graduate school professors for introducing an uncommon degree of clarity and flow into the writing style required by professional journals, I disliked not only writing in that style, but also reading the scholarly articles that required it. The difficulty I already had reading was compounded by the sophisticated nature and blandness of the style, making both reading and writing scholarly papers a significant ordeal.
What inspired me to begin writing was the realization that there was something I was encountering regularly in the clinical practice of my discipline that I wasn’t reading much about and that really needed to be said somehow. I was finding that despite the fact that I’d been trained in an eclectic program that delved into all the major models of therapeutic practice, there were many folks who didn’t seem to fit the frameworks within which I was working, nor did they appear to really benefit from the efforts I was making to help foster change. On top of that, the folks who did seem to fit the model well didn’t really appear all that unhealthy to start with and seemed to profit most not so much from any techniques I’d learned but rather from my providing them with empathic encouragement and support.
By far the most significant thing I discovered is that many of the folks coming to me with the kinds of distress I’d always been trained to recognize and treat were persons in relationships with individuals who weren’t at all in the same kinds of distress and who didn’t seem to respond to traditional interventions. I came to realize that times had changed a lot since the days in which the dominant psychological models were developed and that in order to really understand and help with those problems, a new approach had to be found. So, I set my mind to tackling the issue, and after years of ardent clinical research and discovery, I decided I simply had to write about what I’d learned.
Some of the decisions a person makes are destined to be life changing. So it was for me in writing my first book, In Sheep’s Clothing [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]. It began as a labor of love but became a truly agonizing ordeal before the work was finally completed. I first began distributing it as a spiral-bound manuscript, handed out at workshops and seminars. Eventually, buoyed by the encouragement of workshop attendees, the book was published as a trade paperback in 1996. The blessings that have flowed from my decision to publish In Sheep’s Clothing are truly too numerous to count. I still receive an average of 8-10 letters or emails per week from persons in all walks of life and from places far and wide wishing to share their experiences, express gratitude for a work that finally validated their feelings and intuitions, and contribute further to a much needed discussion on today’s problems and dysfunctional relationships. I not only archive every message I get, but I also incorporate the feedback into an ongoing refinement of my work. And the encouragement I’ve derived over the years has kept me writing, not only other books, but also smaller articles and numerous internet posts. Writing can help a person with something to say reach quite a wide audience, especially when one’s message resonates well with others. And the rewards that can flow from that enterprise can be substantial indeed.
In the last few years, for a variety of reasons, I’ve had to decrease my output of written material. It’s not that I don’t still enjoy writing — I do. But for reasons better left unsaid, it’s become a much bigger ordeal than it used to be. In fact, were it not for the fact that most of my latest book, Character Disturbance [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK], was already written years ago, it might never have been published. Although full-scale promotion of the book has yet to ensue, I pray that this latest effort meets with a response similar to that experienced with the first. But even if that proves not to be the case, the undeniable truth is this: my life is many times fuller now than it ever was before because I took the leap of faith to write on matters about which I believed much needed to be spoken. And although there’s much more I could speak about in this regard, there aren’t really enough words to convey the many blessings that have come my way because of a choice I made so many years ago.